So that was an experience.

As I wrote earlier this week, Liz and I, along with Méabh and Hannah, drove up to Ballybay in Co. Monaghan on Tuesday, to take part in letting the land. Well, that is what Liz and I went up for…Hannah and Méabh just wanted to play with the puppies that live on the property (see the video below)

At 2:30 pm, the auctioneer showed up and met with Liz. Around the same time, a few people from around the area also began showing up. While the potential bidders gathered in the driveway, the auctioneer was inside one of the flats explaining strategy to us (and letting us know that he has seen ‘The Field’ around 150 times…he didn’t mention if anyone has died in any of his transactions.)

At about 10 minutes after the scheduled auction start time, he went out, called everyone together and started the auction.

While we have a couple of theories as to what was actually going on during the bidding (or lack of bidding), at the end of the auction, 30 minutes later, the land was not let.

What does that mean? Basically it means people who are interested in renting the land for the next year will need to contact the auctioneer directly and make offers. And from what we’ve heard, that is going well at this point.

If Liz and I had been running the letting of the land on Tuesday, we would have run the whole process very differently. The thing is, I have no idea if that would have been a good thing or a bad thing.

There is something in most of us that can walk into a setting we have not encountered previously, and wonder why they don’t do things the way we would.

When we were in Ithaca, people would sometimes come to the church from a community quite different from ours (perhaps the southern US, or a rural area, or even a different church background). And within weeks, begin to ‘advise’ us that we should be doing certain things differently than we were doing them. My favourite was when someone left another Ithaca area church, came to ours, and then wanted us to do things like their former church did.

There was one family that came to our church, got connected, joined a small group, served and eventually became small group leaders. They led one of our strongest groups. It was then, that they began sharing with us some ways we could improve small groups based on things that they’d learned elsewhere. Chris eventually led our small group ministry and Emily our prayer team. They were also the people who suggested that we try switching our Sunday worship gathering around so that worship was after the message.

Both of those ideas ended up having a tremendous impact on the life of our church.

What struck me about them is that they had these suggestions (and others) from the moment they joined our church in Ithaca. But they took time to get to know us…learn our culture…build relationships…build trust…and spoke from that place.

We’ve been trying to follow that example in all our adventures here in Ireland. Whether it is about letting farmland, dealing with banks, or church planting. Trying to life with a recognition that while there might be things we can add…there is much more that we can learn…and that is hard to do when you are constantly thinking that you know better.

Slow to speak…quick to listen seems like good advice.